How to Support Someone You Love

  1. Offer support. Offer a survivor support only if they want it. Sometimes as friends or loved ones of survivors we may want to fix their problems but we can’t. The survivor should decide how and when to get support.
  2. Listen without judgement. If your friend or family member discloses that they are going through a tough time in a relationship listen to them carefully and don’t judge them. Oftentimes survivors are hesitant to reach out to people for support because they are afraid of being judged, especially survivors of color and LGBQ/T survivors. There are multiple oppressions that can affect an individual and it is important to recognize how as well-meaning friends or loved ones of survivors we can perpetuate those microaggressions.
  3. Educate yourself about intimate partner abuse. One of the most important things you can do is find out what partner abuse is and how it impacts the survivor. If your loved one identifies as LGBQ/T seek resources that are specific to that community and/or language-specific resources if available. There are many shelters and community resources that unfortunately don’t have the capacity to serve all communities. A survivor can be further traumatized at the hands of providers that are homo/bi/transphobic and/or racist.
  4. Safety Plan. When your loved one is ready to get out of their relationship one of the most helpful things you can do is help them think about the ways that they can leave safely. There are many concerns that the survivor may have about leaving the situation and it is important that you validate their concerns. Only they know what is most important to them. Please look at our safety planning guide available in English and Spanish in the previous section.
  5. Acknowledge the difficulty of leaving the relationship. It is hard to leave a relationship, whether it is a healthy or unhealthy relationship. Your loved one may feel conflicted and it’s okay. The best thing that you can do is have patience and give them the resources that they may need. It is also important to acknowledge that if the partner is controlling it may impact the decision of the survivor. If you suspect there is controlling behavior point it out and discuss how it may be impacting the survivor’s decision. Most importantly please respect the survivor’s decision. Their decisions may not always seem like the best idea but ultimately they have the tools for their own survival.
  6. Take care about yourself. It can be overwhelming trying to help a loved one. Call a hotline; workers are prepared to deal with calls not only from survivors but also from friends or loved ones of survivors. Partner abuse does not affect just the survivor but the entire community. However, that does not mean we prioritize our needs above the survivor.

*Inspired by the Helping Someone You Love section at womencareshelter.org